I know of a student who’s been enrolled in a high school class since January, but who has never showed up to class. Perhaps he had moved, but had not officially withdrawn, leaving the school to do so after he’d been gone long enough. This happens all the time.
Last week, the office asked his teachers to confirm his absences, a step in the withdrawal procedure. But, then, a couple of days later, there was a homework request in those teachers’ mailboxes for him. Apparently, he was out of school due to a medical condition, and the teachers were all being asked to provide “homework” to cover January 24-March 16. Was this a joke? Sadly, no.
It’s beyond impossible to give a bunch of worksheets and textbook questions to a student a teacher has never even met to cover two months–just one week shy of being an entire quarter. If that were even an option, any attendance would be pointless, and every kid could just do their stuff at home and mail it in. The request was a pretty disturbing insult to the integrity of all classes.
What kind of parents would expect a school to able to almost literally phone in enough work to cover a quarter of a school year? If they did think that way, how could they respect an institution that they think is so easy? And how could a school go along with the farce of such perceptions?
The homework request said that he’d had surgery, and I’m sorry for him and wish him well, but if his parents didn’t bother to keep the school in the loop for over a month, until the school tried to find out about the absences, then his loss of credit is their fault. A situation like this is exactly why the school district has homebound services available in the first place.
This is a sad and awful illustration of how little regard our society has for the real value and nature of education, and how far we’re willing to suspend reason to fit our conveniences.
Is it fair that a young man may lose credit for some classes due to a legitimate medical situation? No, of course not. But there’s no way to reasonably alter the situation so that that can be changed. Sometimes, it is what it is. My study of history teaches me that people used to understand this. Obviously, few do anymore.
This reminds me of the Simpsons episode, “Bart’s Inner Child,” where Springfield becomes enthralled by the whimsical pop psychology of a self help guru, and everybody starts doing whatever feels good. Pretty soon, the whole town is literally falling apart. Society can’t function when everything is fair in everyone’s own eyes. At some point, we have to accept that things just can’t always be fair.
Sometimes, fairness is a square peg, and reality is a round hole.